Washington State (7-3) slide past SIU-Edwardsville (2-7) Wednesday night by a final 89-73 score in Beasley Coliseum for their second matchup of the Las Vegas Classic.
Wazzu’s usual starter at guard, Viont’e Daniels, remained sidelined for the second straight contest due to a reported concussion. This resulted in the same starting five we saw Monday in the form of Jervae Robinson, Robert Franks Jr., CJ Elleby, Marvin Cannon, and Carter Skaggs.
But that wasn’t the only similarity one could draw to Monday night’s affair with Rider University. It seemed no matter how far the Cougs managed to distance themselves on the scoreboard, the visitors refused dismissal despite several social cues.
Washington State drew first blood through a quick Elleby layup just seconds after the opening tip. It became a foolproof formula offensively as WSU found their first 10 points in the paint complimented by a solo trip to the foul line by Cannon.
But SIUE was quick to hit back. Calling the Cougar’s bluff, the dark jerseys rattled off two threes and a trio of midrange jumpers to snatch an early 12-10 lead.
Standout freshman Elleby proceeded flexed his athleticism on command. In a series of seconds, the in-state product pulled down a rebound, went to the opposite coast for an easy bucket, and denied the SIUE retaliation in transition.
Forward Jeff Pollard was promptly hit in stride on a fast break for the 14-12 lead that Washington State ceased to lose sight of.
The Cougs donned a comfortable 46-32 lead at the break behind Elleby’s 12 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.
The opening of the second half resembled that of a rat race. Upbeat tempo, laced with sloppy transitions, showed urgency on both ends of the court. SIUE showed no signs of compliancy; they didn’t plan on going anywhere.
After a pair of buckets, Ahmed Ali took matters into his own hands in an effort to build a commanding WSU lead. He connected on a deep three – called an and one – just a moment before the officials charged SIUE with an off-ball technical. Making 2 of his allotted 3 attempts from the stripe, the rare 5-point play contributed to his evening total of 12.
After WSU reached a 20-point advantage, SIUE flipped a switch and kicked it into high gear. In just the blink of an eye, a 10-0 run once again made things interesting with just minutes to play.
David McFarland led the visiting charge picking up a game-high 24 points on 4 three-pointers and 71 percent shooting. 17 of his points came in the second half; though, the senior guard fouled out within the final minute of play after a scuffle with Ali for a loose ball.
And while the Cougar defense didn’t play outstanding by any measure, they took and ungodly amount of charge calls. No official figures have been reported, but 6 seems to be the number many have been tossing around.
Late SIUE efforts made a run, but WSU’s ability to convert late from the foul line slammed the door shut. As a team, Washington State shot over 50 percent form the floor (27/53) and nearly 85 percent from the foul line (18/22).
Frank’s turned in a stat sheet with several team highs of 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assist. It’s his eighth double-double as a Cougar. Beside him was Elleby – named the player of the game – with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 of the best blocks you’ll see in college hoops.
Washington State will square off with San Diego (9-3) Saturday as they travel to Las Vegas for the latter half of the tournament. The Toreros are coming off an 85-65 victory over Northern Colorado.
Live coverage of the 4:30 p.m. tip can be found at Fox Sports 1.